The Emotional Truth About Writing '70s House'.
I am on the cusp of the official UK publication date of my first book ‘70s House’ and I wanted to share some of my thoughts and feelings about writing a book.
Writing the book was the easy part, in retrospect. I thought it was hard at the time, I worried about starting the book for the longest time, weeks in fact into my deadline I worried away days staring at a blank note book or screen, paralysed at the thought of writing something dreadful. I had pitched the book to great success to the publishers and I hashed out a rough plan of what I thought should be included in the book and then I just froze. I had the biggest imposter syndrome imaginable, why was I writing this, who would buy it or read it (I still have these feelings deep down and I doubt they will ever fully go away).
I started writing seriously one morning once I had taken my child to school, thinking I had best crack on with it as I had over 45, 000 words to get onto paper in 20 weeks. It was a cold January morning, but I opened my ancient lap top and picked a topic, which was rugs and shag pile and I just wrote, I didn’t think too much about anything I just wrote, from my own knowledge, pausing to highlight sections I needed to fact check at a later date and four hours later I had written thousands of words on carpets (which needed to be heavily edited to a manageable amount later), this is where I discovered the difficulty isn’t so much on what to write, it is what to leave out and how to edit your own work (very tricky as it turns out). My wonderful commissioning editor never bothered me, she never asked for updates, she allowed me full creative free reign on what I wanted to do and trusted my vision, even as a completely inexperienced writer. I did however have to submit my first sections to be included in a promotional brochure for international book sellers in March 2022 so buyers could see the tone and vibe of the book.
Once I got to over 10,000 words I started getting paranoid about losing all my work, I would in fact wake up in the middle of the night worrying about this, and this led to a rather bizarre ritual that I would write each topic in a separate word document which was saved and filed, this was then transferred to the main manuscript once edited and everything was saved, double saved, saved to a stick, then FINALLY I would email myself the documents – Just in case, I look back and it seems farcical now, but at the time the fear of losing everything was very real.
I got into a rhythm with writing, to the expense of pretty much everything else, as soon as I was alone in the house when I had completed the school run, I would open the lap top, usually sitting under a blanket on the sofa and write from 9.30am to 2.30pm most week days. I would pick a subject, and write, just write, sometimes notes, sometimes huge swathes of paragraphs. I would then, at a later date re read and edit and add anything I thought I had missed. This was pretty much my daily life for the months of February through to the end of May, when a week ahead of my deadline I finished everything I needed to write about. With a huge sense of pride and relief I closed my laptop and took myself for a champagne lunch, on my own. Friends have commented that this was a rather sad and lonely celebration for finishing the manuscript, however it felt fitting that I had written this on my own, from start to finish, that I celebrate my achievement quietly with the person who had made this happen, it was a time to sit, slightly stunned at myself and reflect on the magnitude of the task that I had just completed.
One thing I do remember is the sections that I thought would be the most difficult were some of the easiest to do and the ones I thought would be fun turned out to be the hardest, emotionally at least. It is easy to research facts about products you love, there is very little emotion connected to it overall. However, there are themes that run through the book at are from my own memory and writing these sections proved to be incredibly draining and even upsetting at times, it forced me to think about people and places I had loved and lost and the objects that I associated with these throughout my life. There would be days where I would be writing through streams of tears, ugly crying into my keyboard, and because of this it has left me with a huge vulnerability when I think about the book. The book is very much ‘me’; it was soul bearing and the emotions that come with that are hard to process and are complex to say the least.
The question remains, am I happy with the book? The answer, a never straightforward, yes, and maybe. I do not think any creative person is truly happy with anything they produce, there is always a niggling thought at the back of your mind, could I have improved on this, could I have added more, should I have not included this? I am starting to get used to the book, for the longest time my preview copy sat in an envelope, but now I can pick her up and flick through her (never pausing long enough to read, in case I notice any mistakes I cannot correct).As the publication date draws nearer, I am reminded by those closest to me that not everyone gets to write a book, a book is enduring, a legacy. Of course, naturally, I am nervous of people’s reactions because everyone wants to do a good job at something, right? But overall, I am more accepting that I have wholeheartedly done the best job that I could do and I put hours, days, months and years of my life into this book, along with my soul, and my heart, and for that I am incredibly proud of what I achieved.